Recently, I had received the Canor AI 2.10 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier for review courtesy of Scott Bierfeldt of Verdant Audio and within the last month or two I have enjoyed it immensely.
This hybrid tube solid-state amplifier’s basic circuit design is all solid-state; however, it is used along with two 6922 vacuum tubes at its input stage. This representation uses a familiar Hypex switching power supply and will be recognized as a Class D design, otherwise.
The Slovakian company has been developing and manufacturing high-end audio products for almost 25 years and in fact, is a tube specialist! The prototype of their first serially produced TP101 integrated tube amplifier was presented at the exhibition in Brno (Czech Republic) in April 1995. Nevertheless, the ‘D’ designation, in this case, does not refer to its’ true operational classification. The Canor A 2.10 power supply is mixed with a traditional linear power supply and so it consists of both a digital switching power unit as well as a conventional linear one. The amplifier’s power output is rated at 150 Wpc which is specified into a 4 Ohm load. At 8 ohms were talking about a hefty 100 or more average watts per channel!
If you’ve been reading The Sound Advocates reviews on Class D amplification, you’re probably aware of many excellent units we have heard over the years. Indeed, I have argued and evaluated how these amplifiers have now truly come into their own as to their exalted sound quality, in most cases. As we approach A1 2.10, we have the well-known Hypex power unit in Class D powered by a filtered and tuned linear power supply.
The Canor AI 2.10 amplifier is an internally balanced design and will arguably, sounds best if you use balanced XLR input cables. I did have a chance to use both unbalanced RCA connections and balanced XLR cables for this listening trial (incorporating the new and quite exceptional Audience Studio 1’s (review forthcoming),
The A1 2.10 will need some good break-in time to start showing off its attributes, as initially, the amplifier was a bit hard and edgy. Understandably, the vacuum tubes need some time to break in as with most of the best designs. The manufacturer suggests about 30 hours and that seemed to be on target with my findings.
The rear panel of the Canor has six component inputs; four are stereo pairs of RCA jacks and two are left / right channel XLR inputs. At the left rear are four speaker binding posts. And at the right side are the main power switch and an IEC-style power cord receptacle with a fuse holder.
I asked Scott, founder of Verdant Audio, who imports the Canor, about the use of other preamps and/ or power amps with the A1 2.10. As such, he advised that this is a no-frills, strict, integrated amplifier. There is no preamp input available, or outputs to various power amplifiers. Adding to this, Canor feels that an onboard phono stage is an inherently compromised solution. An outboard phono stage is going to provide superior performance so they opted against inclusion.
Canor does offer two phono stages, a PH1.10 and PH2.10 that they claim to be “superb”; though they do acknowledge that they are not inexpensive and unlikely to be paired with the AI 2.10. Arguably, this makes lots of sense, as even many modestly priced externals are usually quite a bit better than most on deck phono stages in integrated amps at this price level.
This amplifier was a joy to set up and was exceedingly easy to connect to the system I am currently using. The main power switch is located on the back panel and you’ll probably use the well-executed remote control to turn the amplifier on/off and to adjust the volume and input. The aluminum cased remote is attractive and ergonomically splendid as it matches the amplifier’s cosmetics quite well. All the same, some controls should be usedfor the matching Canor CD player/DAC that was not here for this review. Even so, my Audio Note CD3.1X2 reference player was used for the listening sessions in this case. I also incorporated the Audio Note R-Zero II phono stage to play a few vinyl recordings I had on hand with the relatively new Audio Technica LP-7 turntable. (review forthcoming).
Otherwise, the majority of sources were CD, CD-r rips from the internet, and some streaming as well. One particular recording worth noting is a performance of Scheherazade conducted by Valery Gergiev leading the Kirov Orchestra. (Decca). The live recording is slightly dry but luxuriously full-bodied, bringing forth all the decadence of its recording venue. A top-notch display of beauty when used with the Canor integrated!
Ironically, the combination of the AI.2.10 tube input stage and hypex power supply did not bring forth as much as one might expect of the “tube sound” in this amplifier. When noticeable at all, it was mainly when reproducing some of the better recorded acoustic sources through Qobuz and the Innuous Zenith III set up, and this is where the Canor’s “light” was able to shine through. In essence, we can describe the audio presentation here as one that demonstrates to some degree, a middle ground between digital and vacuum tube performance.
Most certainly, the Canor is an integrated amp that is blessed with a fine-overall sound disposition, incorporating a detailed and highly accurate resolution of depth, spaciousness, and fine musical tonality. Live performances produced a somewhat lively reproduction quality while displaying good stereo image localization, if not as “exact” centrally as some other recent integrated and separate power amps auditioned.
Bass impact and solidity managed to be exhumed from the best of both orchestral works and popular music with fine dynamics and good transient response from the loudspeakers it was mated to. This amplifier showed a tiny tendency towards some upper mid/treble energy, but I would not call it “bright” by any means. Concert hall ambiance was wonderfully reproduced and vinyl records showed a good replica of the source– maybe, in some respects, better than some digital program. I would call the Canor A1 2.10 a faithful and trustworthy amplifier that is an audiophile “crowd pleaser” while it will probably attract some “newbies” to the high-definition audio world.
A FEW COMPARISONS
In comparing the Canor AI 2.10 to some recently reviewed integrated amplifiers we can find some interesting, though by no means, subtle differences in their sound quality.
Keeping within the relatively same price point, The Naim SuperNait 3 will offer the options of a phono stage, a superb build as well, while always keeping that Naim signature sound quality. The Naim is a bit more laid back than the Canor and may have a touch more detail. Otherwise, the A1 2.10 will have more “vigor” in the upper mids and treble without sounding harsh or acidic.
My recent review of the Avid Integra from England will offer the listener a balance in audio perspectives that sits between the Naim and the Canor. In actuality, the Avid and the Canor amplifiers have a small resemblance or similarity in their reproduction qualities in general — although there is no doubt that the Canor is more affable in its demure as well as being almost half the price of the Avid!
The Canor AI 2.10 integrated amplifier is bound to satisfy many of the most fastidious audio enthusiasts as it just about crosses the boundaries that are essentially desired by the tube and solid-state audio fan. I would call the Canor A1 2.10 a faithful and trustworthy amplifier with a sonic perspective that can entice enthusiasts who may just be venturing into the world of high-end audio reproduction.
Although you will need a separate phono stage for vinyl use, Canor’s products or even a more modestly priced phono stage should sound fantastic with this unit.
In the company of the tube preamplifier on the A1 2.10 input and fitted with a high-powered, taut, engaging, and emotional-sounding Class D amplifier, it exudes a highly musical combination of splendor all under one roof. By the way, the A1 2.10 displays excellent workmanship within its finely crafted design. This is an integrated amplifier that I could live with quite happily. Consumers should try to get an audition of the Canor at your nearest dealer for this is one integrated that is bound to grab many audiophiles at a very reasonable price!
Canor AI 2.10 integrated amplifier ~~ $3999.00
Output power: 2 x 100 W / 8 Ohm 150 W / 4 Ohm Inputs sensitivity 400 mV / 150 W / 1 frequency range20 – 20 000 Hz ± 0,3 dB / 5 W Inputs impedance 30 kOhmInputs4 x RCA, 2 x XLR Total Harmonic Distortion< 0,05% / 1 kHz, 5 W Signal-to-noise ratio95 db Tube Complement: 2x 6922 EHPower230 V / 50 Hz / 460 Va Dimensions (w x h x d) 435 x 120 x 405 mm Weight (net) 15 kg.
Review system for this product: Loudspeakers: Living Voice R25A, Spendor BC1, Quad ESL 63, ~ Digital: Border Patrol DAC SE-I ~ Prism Sound “Callia” DAC ~ Innuos Zenith Mk.3 server/streamer ~ Wyred4Sound 10th Anniversary DAC ~ Audio Note (UK) CD3.1x/2 Analog: SOTA comet 5 and Dynavector high output moving coil cartridge. Amplification: ~ Pass Lab XP- 12 line stage preamp ~ Pass Labs XA30.8 power amp ~ Audio Note R Zero II phono stage / Cables/ Conditioners: Inakustik AC-3500p power station & LS-4004 speaker cables, AC-2404 reference Air Power Cord ~ Silversmith Audio ‘Fidelium’ loudspeaker cables ~ Wireworld Electra 7 digital SPDIF/ Audio Art 1 e” AC Power Cord.
CANOR AUDIO https://www.canor-audio.com/
CANOR, spol. s r.o.
080 06 Prešov
USA importer: Verdant Audio Inc
Scott Bierfeldt Founder
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